With Chris Bosh "Out Indefinitely," the Pacers' Chances to Beat the Heat Improve

Chris Bosh suffered an abdominal strain late in the first half of Game 1 that will keep him “out indefinitely,” according to the Heat.

Wasn’t nary a soul, outside of the Pacers locker room anyway, who gave the Pacers a chance of winning a series against the Heat. But after a first-half performance by Indiana in Game 1 that can fairly be called dominant and Bosh now sidelined for at least the near-term future, it would seem that the Pacers’ odds are on the rise.

The Pacers were demolished by LeBron in the second half yesterday. The degree to which he overwhelmed Indiana, especially in the fourth quarter, cannot be over-stated. But the Pacers remained competitive even as LeBron and Wade went semi-nuts and their own offense went into the tank. Going forward, the team should have plenty of confidence and game film to help them better adjust and sustain their play in Games 2, 3 and 4.

Dan Devine of Yahoo offers some perspective on the Bosh injury.

Abdominal injuries can be tricky beasts — they limit range of motion, sap explosiveness, screw with mechanics and make reaching or contesting on defense an awful chore. Once the MRI results are back and Miami knows the extent of the injury, we’ll get a clearer picture of how long Bosh will be out.

On the plus side for the Heat, the team appears to be well positioned to handle Bosh’s absence in the short term, thanks in large part to how James’ ridiculous skill set enables him to shift very quickly from nightmarish small forward to a holy terror at power forward.

So yeah, there is that.

But the Heat are not a complete team regardless of the fact that LeBron may be the most complete player in basketball history. Miami has been so great mainly due to the play of two historically elite players and one unbelievable power forward. Without that power forward, they will have to rely even more on the other two.

UPDATE: Via Ira Winderman, Heat beat writer for the South Florida Sentinnel.

The non-update update on Chris Bosh leaves opponents with game-to-game uncertainty, but we’re likely talking an extended absence.

And this.

According to physioroom.com: Abdominal strain: 1-2 weeks (minor), 3-4 weeks (moderate), 6-8 weeks (severe)

Take those estimates for what they’re worth (little) but if we base anything off them, then Bosh would likely be out through Game 4 (Sunday 5/20) and perhaps sidelined for the the entire series. (Game 7, if needed, will be played Saturday, 5/26.)

UPDATE PART II: Mike Prada of SB Nation offers the following on Bosh’s importance to the Heat. (Emphasis added by me.)

Despite Bosh’s reputation, every advanced metric points to his importance to the Heat. His PER of 18.9 is well behind Wade and James, but also well ahead of anyone else on the team. He uses 24.2 percent of his team’s possessions; other than Wade and James, only Norris Cole, who has fallen out of the rotation, uses over 18 percent. Over each of the past two years, Bosh’s unadjusted plus-minus has actually been better than Wade’s. Adjust it for competition, and Wade beats out Bosh by less than half a point over the past two years. More fundamentally, the Heat are just 7-7 when Bosh has not played over the past two years.

The Heat will especially miss Bosh offensively. When Bosh is in the game, James and Wade have a pick and pop partner that spaces the floor and opens up driving lanes. When he’s not, the paint is clogged, the ball movement stinks and the “my turn” offense that many accuse the Heat of relying on too much rears its ugly head.

The numbers bear this out, too. This season, the Heat score over 111 points per 100 possessions when Bosh is on the court and less than 103 when he’s not. The team’s effective field goal percentage (basically, field goal percentage while adding extra weight to threes) drops from just over 52 percent to about 47.5 percent. Worse, the percentage of the team’s field goals that are assisted drops from 55 percent to 51 percent. You could look forever for a number to suggest that no Bosh is better for Miami’s offense, but you won’t find it.

Worse, Miami’s game-plan to attack Indiana directly involved Bosh. Indiana’s one of the league’s strongest defenses, but teams can attack them by taking advantage of Roy Hibbert’s lack of mobility defending pick and roll. Using Bosh, a major threat popping out for open jumpers, would have exploited that weakness. Now, Hibbert can contain the ball-handler without having to worry to scurry back to cover Bosh. Ironically, the play Bosh got injured on is the exact kind of play that most exploited Hibbert’s lack of mobility and was one you could have expected to see all series.

UPDATE PART III: Then again, Zach Lowe offers some evidence that the Heat are still definite favorites in this series even without Bosh. (Again, my emphasis.)

Now, LeBron James will play huge minutes at power forward in “smaller” lineups that have done quite well this season, with and without Bosh. Counting only lineups that logged at least 10 minutes together in the regular season, the Heat used James at power forward for 376 minutes and outscored opponents by about 14.5 points per 100 possessions — a number that would have led the league by a long shot, according to Basketball Value. The two such units that recorded the most minutes did not feature Bosh, as the Heat often used James as power forward when one or both of the other stars rested.

David West was unable to punish James in the post in Game 1, both because Miami makes it a chore just to enter the ball, and because LeBron is just as big and strong as the Pacers’ power forward. Miami’s move to sign Shane Battier and retain Mike Miller has it stocked with defenders capable of guarding small forward Danny Granger, sparing each of the LeBron/Battier/Miller trio the full-game burden. The Pacers were unwilling to go small/fast along with Miami on Sunday, forcing West into an awkward matchup on defense with Battier. That pulls West from the paint, opening driving lanes, and over the course of the series it will provide Battier some good looks as West scrambles around in an unfamiliar, perimeter-oriented assignment.

In five meetings this season, the Heat are plus-35 against the Pacers in about 41 minutes with James at power forward, per NBA.com. The sample size is tiny, but we have no evidence Indiana can combat this.

Lowe also notes multiple issues being without Bosh presents for Miami, most notably the fact that LeBron may have to play a ton of minutes.

Miami will be playing a dangerous game if coach Erik Spoelstra asks James to approach 45 minutes every game, a possibility if LeBron must play power forward for extended time. James played at least 42 minutes in 15 of Miami’s 21 postseason games last year, and in the Finals, the Mavericks were convinced that they could exhaust him in a long series. This is one reason Dallas began running a bunch of staggered pick-and-roll plays for guard Jason Terry once it became clear that James would defend him down the stretch of games. Dallas wanted James to expend maximum energy on defense, confident the minutes load would eventually take its toll on body and mind.

Miami has made one adjustment in the postseason that could mitigate this: The Heat have played much more with small lineups that don’t include James at all. Going “small” was almost exclusively a LeBron thing in the regular season; no lineup that featured another Miami guard or wing player as the nominal power forward logged even eight minutes all year, per Basketball Value.

One such lineup — Wade, Miller, Battier, point guard Mario Chalmers and center Joel Anthony — has already been used 22 minutes in the playoffs, and a second has played seven minutes, according to NBA.com’s stats database.

Tags: 2012 Playoffs Miami Heat Pacers Vs. Heat 2012 Playoffs

  • KARMA man


    although i’d rather see Wade go down (oh how he deserves a good injury) this is a nice subtraction for the Heat as it makes the match up now deliciously even. All those predicting Bosh loss makes “no difference against the Pacers” are going to look really stupid after Indiana steals home court and all Miami has to show for it is the Anthony/Haslem/Turiaf monster down low for the 3 games after that

    KARMA working

  • Joe

    I’m telling ya, the Pacers are going to expose the size difference in this series (especially with Bosh out) and bully Miami down low, just like they did against Orlando.

  • Evan

    I wish he wasn’t injured so ESPN (and everybody else on Miami’s cajones) wouldn’t have any excuses as to why the Heat lost and the no-name Pacers upset them. But alas, if it helps the Pacers win then it’s not all bad.

  • poot

    If Lebron plays the 4 it will be a tough series. He has the strength and size to defend West reasonably well. Battier and Miller will be able to defend Granger/George, at least keep them from exploding nightly. On the other side of the ball, they will play some mean transition game. Like most stats about Miami, Zach_Low fails to capture that these “Lebron at the 4″ lineups are mostly from garbage time when Bosh rests up and Lebron pads his stats.

    The transition will be tough, but the plus side is a conservative offensive approach should minimize opportunities. They may have what it takes to deny Hibbert the ball, or even push him from his spot once in a while, but not every time down the floor. Without Bosh, you won’t see Hibs fouling out again. Just keep working away at their pathetic big men, daring Lebron to cheat off of West. Keep dumping the ball down to West too. Lebron hates post defense, just work on him all game long, he will be pretty sore with the kinds of minutes he plays.

  • NoLookPass

    Honestly doesn’t matter if he’s out or not if we don’t take advantage of mismatches as shown by losing the second half by 15 without Bosh playing.

  • havoc

    Karma man, injuries are a part of the game like someone already said. So remember there is the likelihood someone on the pacers can go down with an injury as well. Never wish evil on anyone because it’ll come right back to you. I doubt you know what karma really is. #you’re a tool!

  • Mr. Bleedy Dick

    I have a bleedy dick.

  • dwain

    we sure seem to have had an influx, and it seems allot of “evil” being thrown around. are any of us trashing the Heats boards?…didn’t think so, seems there is yet another separation between Pacer and Heat fans. As to karma, it has nothing to do with basketball and everything to do with ones motivation behind an action they take. If it is a negative action it waters negative karmatic seeds and thus the ripened result, if it is a positive action it waters positive karmatic seeds, thus a positive result. Karmatic seeds is a descriptor for “our” ledger of positive and negative actions going back through all of our life times…and btw wtf is this to do with a basketball game/forum again?
    I think u guys better stick to motivations…those seem pretty clear…

  • Nick

    Karma has nothing to do with Bosh getting hurt. The guy had a great last week with the birth of his son and performing well against the Knicks. He had a hell of a first half before the injury as well.

    With all that said, I’m really sick of reading comments from “Heat fans” about telling “stupid Pacers fans” to shut up because we don’t know what good basketball is. I think it’s pretty universally agreed that the Heat have three (now maybe two) tremendous athletes, but we’ll see what kind of “basketball” they play with the loss of their biggest pick-and-roll threat. Do they retreat to a Carmelo-esque isolation game that plays right into the hands of the Pacers’ defense?

    I don’t think the Pacers should win this series now with Bosh presumably done, but if they can execute (and get at least some output from their wing players), they have no excuses for not winning at least three games in the series. As much as this is the players’ time to shine, this is where we get to see how important Frank Vogel is to the team. He has the ability to game-plan the Heat into submission in game 2. Here’s hoping he does.

  • KARMA man

    KARMA on the Heat FANS…

    and as serious as injuries can get, ab strain is the perfect injury to wish upon someone. it is completely non-life threatening, has extremely limited potential for re-injury, and heals in 2-4 weeks at worst. it is not even painful unless the person with it attempts a feat of strength or agility. basically he gets a few weeks off to bond with his newborn son, and will come back from his injury at 100% if he doesn’t rush it. the only people who will suffer are those who feel they are entitled to a championship because they have the “big 3″


  • havoc

    lol, you’re a joke (karma man) + i never said pacer fans should shut up. If you need to go back and read my previous comment just do so. Plus i dont have a horse in this race, couldn’t care less to be honest. If you think foul disparity was harsh in gm 1, you’re in for something else come gm2. You can expect wade+james to be ultra aggressive to get hibbert out of the picture early. Like DG said, you only neutralise those 2 by making them play D as well. If not, this thing could be over quickly.

  • Bat

    Hi, 8ps9scs Bloggers. First of all, Thanks you very much for your great insider blogging for my lifelong favourite team Indiana Pacers.
    I’ve one suggestion for writers, this is please keep posts shorter&crisp and better quality.
    I’ve checked today 8ps9scs, it has 6-7 articles for only one game, It’s huge and i don’t have much time to read blogs all day.
    Any way , i like to read the good blogs like 8ps9scs and wish you good writer.